I’ve recently returned from the Convergence Global Blockchain Congress. The goal of the conference seams to have been to integrate and showcase various initiative European Commission has a patronage over and to give the networking opportunity to the blockchain community. It was organised by European Commission, INATBA (International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications) and Spanish Alastria.
Łukasz Jonak, Analityk DELab UW
The mandate of INATBA was defining the focus of the conference. The Association is designed as a keystone between blockchain industry and regulating institutions, the public sector and academia, with the goal to formulate regulatory guidelines and promote application of blockchain-based solutions to a number of global issues. The INATBA members are mostly companies, over 100 of them, both with purely blockchain background (Cardano,Iota, Gnosis) and ‘legacy’ pedigree, expanding their operations and portfolio in blockchain world (IBM, Oracle, Accenture, etc.)
Other initiatives present at the Congress were European Blockchain Partnership, with its government-level meetings and consultations and EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum, wrapping its first funding period and presenting the knowledge and expertise it managed to produce thus far.
There were three parts to the conference, at least as far as general public (myself included) was concerned:
Plenary keynotes and panels with some hight profile speakers, presidents (of Latvia and city of Malaga), EU and UN officials, industry representatives and experts. Proceedings varied in informativity and were spread between 2-3 parrarel sessions, so sometimes hard choices about what to attend had to be made, but in general they made a good outline and review of the areas and issues of blockchain technology applications.
INATBA Round Tables where open to public meetings in which INATBA Work Groups were reporting their progress and gathered feedback from the audience. I’ve attended 6 roundtables of which meetings on Education and Governance I found most insightful (the other 4 were Identity, Finance, Social Impact and Privacy). There was not nearly enough time for discussions, especially if public insisted to be involved. Still, at the very least, the meetings gave a good idea about what was INATBAs’ Work Groups focus and strategy and, consequently, what would be the issues soon discused on European and global level (if INATBA has any agenda-setting power). Above all, however, the roundtables were the best opportunity to identify people with similar interests (both members of working groups and the public), which would be helpful later, during the
Networking was in the opinion of many people I talked to the best aspect of the Congress. The most of the converesations and improvised meetings took place in the spot being the combination of food court, exhibition area and office open space. People naturally gravitated there for lunch or in between the sessions (or even during the proceedings). The size the conference was perfect for networking, there were plenty of opportunities to talk to anybody without any perceptible barrier of status or profile. Some of those encounters were semi-formalised, as with the meeting of a dozen academics interested in blockchain research and teaching, organized by Dr. Inon Schenker from Hogeg Blockchain Research Institute.
During the Congress there was a perceptible hunger for knowledge, the need for the clarity of who is who and what is what in the world of blockchain and I think that to a considerable extent the conference fullfilled these needs. Of course it addressed only a specific sector of blokchain space, the area between (EU-level) regulators, public sector and middle to upper tier of the industry. Most of the bleeding edge startups, for example, probably were at the other side of the globe, attending the Singapore FinTech Festival which took place at the same time as Malaga Congress. So there seems to be still some bridging of the community to be done. Nevertheless, for my research, it was the best place to be at the moment.
Projekt finansowane ze środków programu “Dialog” MNiSW